Students Of All Abilities Recognized
The SOAAR program is an inclusive special education program at NCA International which supports students who have a variety of learning needs. Inclusive education means that children with disabilities will be included as much as possible in our general education classrooms at NCA International while still receiving the individualized instruction and support needed to be successful learners.
Students identified as having a disability will utilize an individualized education program or accomodation plan to help us shape a program of learning that is best for the individual child in a "least restrictive environment". Some of the these services include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Modified curriculum or adaptations to general education curriculum
- Behavior and social skills support, including Circle of Friends programming
- Reading remediation programming (Wilson Reading Program)
- Resource room or SOAAR classroom support
- Alternative assessment environments
- After-school tutoring program
- Consultation with experts in speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy through Tesoros de Dios and other outside agencies
- Classroom assistant support (1-on-1 or shared)
Questions About the SOAAR Program
Who are the involved staff members?
Andrew Ippel and Amy Hoogeveen are the teachers in the SOAAR program. Mr. Ippel is certified in the area of special education and taught students with moderate cognitive impairments for nine years prior to moving to Nicaragua. He works with children with significant needs and assists general education teachers as they teach students with disabilities. He also supervises our SOAAR classroom assistants. Ms. Hoogeveen serves as the Learning Resources teacher. She works with small groups of children in the areas of reading, math, and study skills, and coordinates the tutoring program at NCAI. Ms. Camryn Mitchell serves as our part-time certified speech and language pathologist, while also supporting students at Tesoros de Dios. Mrs. Marysol Zamora supports the SOAAR program as our school psychologist, assisting with evaluations, observations, and counseling services.
Which students can be a part of the SOAAR program?
The SOAAR program seeks to serve all students with academic and social support needs that are a part of the NCAI learning community through various tiers (levels) of support. Some, but not all, students supported through the SOAAR program have a diagnosed disability.
Tier 1 (Minimal support needs): Students may require accommodations in the general education classroom.
Tier 2 (Direct support needs): Students require accommodations in the general education classroom. Students require some direct instruction (academic or social support) in coordination with the Learning Resource or SOAAR classroom teacher.
Tier 3* (Significant support needs): Students require possible curriculum modifications and the part-time support of a classroom assistant to make progress in the general education classroom. Additional fees apply.
Tier 4* (Extensive support needs): Students require extensive curriculum modifications and the full-time support of a classroom assistant to make progress in the general education classroom. Additional fees apply.
*In the past, NCA International was not able to accept students with significant needs. Through the SOAAR program we now have the staff and resources to work with students who have moderate and severe disabilities. Therefore, ALL students, regardless of ability or disability, are welcome to apply to NCA International. The Child Study Team will recommend that NCA International accept students with disabilities on a case-by-case basis, if we believe we can accommodate their unique learning needs. Once accepted by the Child Study Team, the students will still go through the regular admissions process into NCA International.
Why does the SOAAR program exist at NCA International?
First of all, there is a need. There are missionary families who have children with disabilities that we’ve not been able to serve in the past. There are Nicaraguan families within our “NCA International community” who have children with disabilities that we’ve not been able to serve. We want these children to have the opportunity to be educated alongside of their brothers and sisters at NCA International.
Secondly, we believe that having children with disabilities in our school will be a benefit to all NCA International students. We know of numerous studies that show the benefits of inclusive special education for children with disabilities, allowing them to achieve maximum growth socially and academically. We also see the benefit for our children without disabilities. We desire our graduates to live lives of love and service as they interact with those around them--a Biblical mandate--and this includes persons with disabilities.
Third, the Board of Nicaragua Christian Academy has adopted a policy change that encourages inclusion of diverse learners when possible. This is in line with the Nicaraguan Ministry of Education, which encourages inclusive classrooms in all schools in Nicaragua.
Finally, we see in the Bible so many passages that encourage inclusive programming. The need for all parts of the body is outlined in 1 Corinthians 12. The importance of accepting others is clear in Romans 15. Passages like these reveal God’s desire for His people to live, work, and learn together as an integrated body.
What if I have more questions about the SOAAR program?
We welcome and desire questions, comments, concerns, or ideas as we follow God’s call to welcome children with support needs to the NCA International family! You may contact Andrew Ippel (email@example.com) or Amy Hoogeveen (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.